• Published 30th Jan 2017
  • 3,683 Views, 81 Comments

The Bridge: The Eclipse Times - Tarbtano

1,000 years before The Bridge brought the kaiju, the worst trial of Princess Celestia Alexandria Alicor's life came after Nightmare Moon

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Total Eclipse


The city was dead quiet, the only noise filtering down from above and between the fire-scorched marble pillars and rooftops was a stale, dank wind. The air was bogged down by the horrific stench of deceased fires and the cold of high altitude air. Unmanaged, some of the clouds supporting the buildings had crumbled under their wounds and began to falter. Silence was interrupted, at first by the steady clip-clop of hooves on paving stones and then by the groaning roar of a fractured cloud breaking up, the pillared structure atop it crumbling as it tore itself in two and plummeted to the ground.

The figure walked down what had once been the main street, practically able to see what once was. Bustles of happy pegasus ponies and visitors going about their businesses. Selling, eating, flying along; and talking to one another about mundane affairs while their city drifted along. It was a sobering thought, to not see this ghost town when it was so full of life. Nothing was where it should have been. Lamp posts had been torn down or thrown about, scattering their now dead coals across the ground. Personal artifacts of worth were uprooted even if they were affixed down, weapons and armor from the battle looted while those broken in battle were embedded in the street or walls. Anything seen as worthless was discarded. She saw them all as she walked past, almost speculating as to whom they once belonged to. A pair of broken spectacles, from a jeweler who didn’t fly fast enough. A spoiled dinner for two that had spilled out over the street, untouched, by a couple who refused to leave one another. A broken spear rolling back and forth in the breeze, by a soldier who was outnumbered.

Her hoofsteps stopped and she stared at what was before her. The silvery moonlight lit up the drained husk of a city. Her legs shook and she fell upon them, falling to her knees with widening eyes. It was her. She held it up closer to confirm it, hooves beginning to rattle. It was a tiny toy of a white alicorn with a pink mane, so small and simple it was clearly meant for a young foal. Yet Celestia heard no foals, she heard no pony. And she didn’t have the heart to look at the shadowed patches of the city to see what dried husks were left.

In her mind, this was her fault.

Celestia began to tremble, the rising moon drowning her in moonbeams. She looked to the visage of an alicorn embossed upon the moon, a new feature those in the city must have been confused by in their last months.

In her mind, that was her fault.

She could sense it now. The dark magic coming from Trot even though it was kilometers away. They were fighting it now. If they died, it would be her fault.

Lips which hadn’t spoken in months quivered. Eyes which hadn’t gone a day without crying shut. Tirek was imprisoned. Sombra was gone. Discord was entombed. The world was supposed to have gotten better, but it didn’t. Celestia felt the world clamp down on her. When she lost Amore and the Crystal Ponies, she’d felt it close in. When she lost her home, she felt it grab her. And when she lost her sister, she felt it crush down upon her after she’d torn part of herself away and sent her to the moon.

She was weak and cursed herself for it. She was too weak to save the Empire. She was too oblivious to help Luna. She was too inept to try and find a way to save Nightmare Moon. And her weakness had rendered her mute and a burden upon all those around her while scaring all those beyond Canterlot Castle’s walls. Leaving was an appealing thought, just about the only one she had. So many would be better off with her gone that it seemed like the best choice. But, leaving would just mean leaving them to the same lustful terror that strickened them now. She didn’t know what to pick and that left her mind spiraling even more.

Stay, shake off the weakness, and assume more control? She’d vindicate fears.

Leave, let others stop wasting time worrying for her? She’d only abandon those who’d need her.

She wasn’t a normal pony, but she was expected to have the morals of one.

She wasn’t a normal pony, because nopony treated her like one. They saw only a creature masquerading as one or a beaten flower who needed to be tended to.

Celestia knew any decision presented was one she had to make herself, but a part of her mind only reminded her of how weak she’d been this time. And this decision was an adult one and she wasn’t one. She just looked like one. The young alicorn clutched the toy to her regalia-less chest, gritting her teeth as she tried and failed to hold in a sob.

But she was too weak to even do that.


Celestia gasped, choking on her own breath. Her shut vision focused on the source of the burning pulses, the spirals upon her horn. Gritting her jaw the alicorn nearly stumbled over as another wave of magic burst out of her in tandem with her heartbeat. The telekinesis rattled the chamber like an earthquake with several tiles cracking under her hooves. The young alicorn winced, hanging on to another pulse of magic and practically shoving it back into her horn. It gave her a splitting migraine of a headache upon her success. Celestia finally breathed out, panting and dropping to one knee while looking at the room around her with saddened eyes. The bed Princess Platinum had so generously given her was blown to bits, the wooden frame cracked open and the sheets burned or knocked across the room. The windows were all cracked into the frames, dressers knocked over; and a table was currently lodged in the ceiling. It had been two months since Nightmare Moon, Princess Luna’s manic new persona, had been banished. The Everfree Castle had been torn apart during the conflict and Celestia, who’d been an emotional and physical wreck since then, couldn’t bear to return to the place that had been home. Princess Platinum, an old friend of Celestia, had moved her to stay in Canterlot with her. Near everypony that knew Celestia had been trying to help her.

Smart Cookie and Puddinghead baked her hordes of her favorite sweets that largely went uneaten or didn’t stay down.

Commander Hurricane and Colonel Pansy took time off from Timbucktu to see to it personally that the days be clear and the moon be blocked out by overcast at night.

Clover frequently dropped in to reread the alicorn many of her favorite stories, and Princess Platinum completely dropped her usual haughtiness to make sure Celestia always had a soft bed and plenty of quiet.

So far, Celestia’s out of control magic had cost Platinum seven rooms. Starswirl, whom hadn’t left a two kilometer radius around Celestia all this time, hypothesized her magic was in flux due to using the Elements of Harmony all by herself against the other bearer. Not only had the whiplash severed her connection to them, turning them to stone, but the blowback had visibly affected her as indicative of how her once gold and pink mane was stained with the same rainbow that banished her sister. The fact she was now away from her sister for the first time in her life wasn’t doing any favors based off how the two’s power played off each other. So far the only thing Celestia had managed to will herself to do was raise the sun and, with effort that was either magically or emotionally based, struggle to shift the moon.

Waiting for the rumbling to finally subside, the mare outside the door finally cracked it open; though she had to shove an overturned chair out of the way. Princess Platinum poked her head through, frowning solemnly before entering.

“I’ll call the staff up for repair. You can change rooms again.”

The unicorn muttered, sighing and putting on a slightly pleasant demeanor while trotting up to her old friend with a tray of pastries and tea. Celestia slowly lifted her head up to look at her friend as the unicorn sat beside her. Platinum sighed, cooing softly while holding Celestia’s muzzle and dabbing her cheek with a napkin. The once regal alicorn looked like a wreck. The magic bursts had singed her fur in a few places, dirtying the white with black blotches. Celestia’s eyes were puffy, half bloodshot, and the patches beneath them showed both she hadn’t been sleeping well and had been crying frequently again. Devoid of her regalia, Princess Celestia looked anything but royal right now. A younger Platinum would have jeered and held her nose at such a sight, but the years had matured the unicorn leader. She only finished wiping the smudges and tears off Celestia’s face before hugging the alicorn gently around the neck. She could feel a shaking hoof wrap around her shoulders and meekly return the gesture, earning a smile as she broke away.

“Now, feel like talking yet? Smart Cookie wants to know if you like the new recipe.”

Princess Celestia stared at tray of delicious looking foods. She opened her mouth and for a moment Platinum almost thought she was about to speak. Despite worries to the contrary, Starswirl had assured them he heard her speak and the Element backlash or trauma hadn’t rendered her mute. But aside from half whispered, mostly incomprehensible speech in her sleep, no one had heard the young mare say a single word since her arrival to Canterlot. Shrugging, Platinum pulled out a newsprint from her cloak and flipped through it.

“I see. It’s okay. You can talk when you want. Wanna see the news from the east? Setting up a lovely port city called Manehattan. Your old friend King Leo and the Seaponies are-”

Platinum felt the newspaper get stiff in her grip. Looking at it’s edges she could see the telltale sign of a magical aura freezing it in place. Celestia, eyes locked on the paper, held it in her golden telekinesis and turned the page back around. Upon its title card was inscribed a single piece.

“Lower Canterlot Music Trials to be Redone after “Siren” Interference.”

Celestia forced the page to her muzzle, despite the wide eyed Platinum’s attempts to snatch it away once she realized what gears were working in the alicorn’s head. Celestia speed-read through the whole article in a span of seconds. Three beings resembling mermares, called Sirens, had come to Canterlot. They’d been hexing crowds at a music competition for days, feeding off the populace’s magic until Starswirl had stepped in. After a few days of trial, he managed to use what Celestia immediately recognized based off the description as one of the warp mirrors he and she had designed. But it wasn’t Starswirl’s victory that left Celestia shaking. It was his struggle and the fact she hadn’t known of it.

Shaking all over, Celestia looked to Platinum with a clearly stressed and likely a bit agitated look crossing her twitching face. The air around them began to heat up and Platinum swore she could have seen smoke coming out of Celestia’s mane. Celestia sucked in her breath, closed her eyes, and counted to twenty at least twice. In her blurred mind she wasn’t quite sure how long it been. Taking the newspaper, she pulled it over to herself and nudged the pastry tray over to Platinum; silently apologizing the best she could. Despite her roaring stomach and how much it plagued her conscience knowing the effort Smart Cookie must have gone to making the set and Platinum’s kindness to bring it to her, there was far more important matters at mind.

Before any other second could tick by, Celestia teleported out of the room and reappeared in the portion of the library converted into Starswirl’s study. The unicorn, clad in his trademark bell-bearing hat atop his gray mane and fur, had his back to where Celestia had materialized. Working on some notes he was writing down with a particular magical portal mirror beside him, the old stallion need not turn his head to know whom had visited him. Starswirl the Bearded paused, letting out a tired sigh.

“Thought this would occur soon enough. I take it you found out about the sirens? You should know the issue was dealt with.”

The newspaper was thrown onto the desk to his side, flopping open to the page in question though the edges of which looked slightly blackened and burnt. Starswirl adjusted his reading glasses, shrugging and turning around. He expected Celestia to appear livid, maybe even furious he’d kept such information from her, both by his own accord and by his own demand to the council. Instead he could only glimpse a broken, frowning face when the white alicorn rushed into and pulled the much smaller stallion into a tight hug. He knew something was wrong with her magic, she was practically burning hot to the touch and her tears on his shoulder felt like they’d come from a steaming tea kettle. Swallowing back the heat, Starswirl sighed and gently patted at the alicorn’s back.

“I know… I know, you’d have wanted to know. But Princes-... Tia, listen to me.”

Starswirl pushed back and looked up to the alicorn as she slowly craned her head around to look upon him.

“You are very sick right now. A sickness in here-”

He muttered, gently tapping at the alicorn’s forehead where it met the base of her horn. He then did the same on her chest, just above where her heart was.

“-and here. Nopony blames you for it. You aren’t sleeping enough, you’re not eating enough. Pah, your magic is so out of control I can’t find nor craft an inhibitor horn ring strong enough to contain it. But most of all, I know you’re grieving… I miss her too and I know this-…”

His words momentarily died and the old stallion closed his eyes on contemplation before resuming with saddened breath.

“-this is going to be an adjustment period for all of us. And while you do the most adjusting, I went and took care of a problem before it became a big one. The sirens were potent, but not outright malevolent. If I felt they were so I’d have gotten help, you don’t need to worry about me.”

Celestia’s eyes and jaw quivered while she looked upon the closest thing she had to a father in this world. Some of his words sunk in, but others just bounced off. Be it from actual biology or the sourness of the subject, her eyes were left gaping at how old he looked. The whitening of his beard, the lines in his face, bags of skin forming at his eyes and joints, and the muting of the color within his eyes; they all made him look ancient. Her mind buzzed with thought of this physically poor old stallion having to deal with what she had for the past few years.

-Those sirens could have been far worse than he could have anticipated, especially if he had to use the mirror! What if he lost? What if the mirror didn’t work? What if he got hurt?!-

Celestia quickly averted her eyes to the window overlooking the city beyond.

-What if anypony out there got hurt?! Hurt because I’ve been wallowing in myself and can’t stop?! Hurt because I’m being so weak?! What if-!...-

“Sorry, excuse me?”

A voice piped up from the hall. Starswirl diverted his attention from the thousand-yard staring Celestia and to the newcomer, a youthful but still mature pegasus mare with a blue mane and burnt gold coat. The Hurricane guard, a captain based off her rank, saluted until Starswirl nodded to her.

“Ah, Captain- Ardent Sentry was it? To what do I owe your visit to?”

“S-Summon by the council, Sir. There’s been an ordeal they request your presence in.”

“I’ll be right there.”

Starswirl muttered, nodding the captain to get her to stop saluting. Adjusting his hat, Starswirl glanced over to Celestia, whom still had her back turned to door, and reached out to her. He seemed like he was about to say something in the same old authority the alicorn knew since she was a toddler, but no word came from his opened mouth. Expression softening, he just gently patted her on the shoulders and walked by. As he passed by the young captain however, he let a tiny whisper peak out his lips.

“Try not to let her leave the room and don’t tell her. I’ll be back when this is done.”

As Starswirl left, Captain Ardent Sentry looked back at the alicorn and was instantly frozen in her tracks. Princess Celestia had silently looked back and was staring directly at her. The alicorn slowly got up to her hooves and paced over to the mare she towered over despite being half her age. Despite the princess’ typically pleasant appearance, her raggedness, imposing stature, piercing and unblinking eyes; along with her seeming to be looking through her as much she was at her left caused Ardent Sentry’s pulse to chill. She might have been the wedlock daughter of a tavern mare, but she was a soldier. And as a soldier she would recollect the look Celestia gave her for years to come. Though she’d never state it verbally, out of respect when Celestia was acting like herself and out of fear for how she was now; the alicorn looked terrifying.

Ardent Sentry’s eyes widened and sweat rolled down her face when the realization hit her.

-Ooooh buck, she heard him.-


Ardent Sentry stammered, internal panic increasing more so when Celestia very slowly tilted her head at her with a stoic, uncanny look on her face.

“-There have been certain, developments. I can see that you... might have, maybe, been kept out of the loop. Starswirl and the council must have wanted you to recover before you knew. It was for your own safety and good. Sooo, let’s… let’s just calm down and stay here. Yooou like reading? Lots of stuff in this study.”

Having briefly looked away to find something, anything to distract the alicorn, Ardent Sentry had to feel Celestia’s eyes no longer upon her to realize something else had the princess’ attention. Celestia stepped away from the guardsmare, looking out through a window at the city below. Down the hall, the shouting voice of Starswirl the Bearded could be overheard roaring to several other guards about the object of Celestia’s attention.

“She’s out of her room, she can’t see this! Disperse them in haste, go go go!”

Multiple guards both from Commander Hurricane’s entourage filed past the room in a speedy march. Celestia tilted her head at the crowd accumulating in the townsquare just outside the castle’s large gate. Before Captain Sentry could do anything, be it join her fellow guards or try and distract Celestia; the latter disappeared in a burst of light as she teleported out of the library.


“History is written by the victors, but I say unto you, truth is found by those who seek it! Open your eyes my little ponies, evil was not vanquished that fateful night in the Everfree but freedom was quashed!”

The booming tone belted out across the sizable crowd of both curious onlookers and avid supporters, some in the former category slowly being worked into the cheering latter. Banners with various lunar symbols were strewn about, some held aloft on standards and some thrown onto the front gates leading to the castle in a form of protest. The speaker was a bat-winged stallion named Knight Shroud, grey-azure fur coat with a dull purple mane kept back in a ponytail. Many other ponies in the crowd were also of Luna's affinity, either also sporting bat wings and or of a similar coloration, evidently from dye potions some were passing such around.

“We know of an attack shortly after Celestia confronted Princess Luna, we know how Princess Luna evidently had been distraught by her treatment as of late; and we know this encounter ended in anything but a sisterly communion. It ended in that!”

Knight Shroud shouted, pointing a hoof up to the night sky and directly at the emblem of an alicorn embossed onto the moon.


He sneered.

“Banishment of her own baby sister! And what has the usurper said for herself? NOTHING! Oh yes, others have spoken for her. Officials who arrived after the fact, someponies who claim they saw signs of the battle from a distance. Tell me, my dear little ponies, whom among them could possibly speak against someone who could do that-”

He punctuated his word with another gesture towards the moon.

“-to an Element Bearer, to an alicorn who was strong enough to fight dragons and all the other heinous beasts in and outside of our dreams? Give me one valid reason we shouldn’t think they’d be what we all are of Celestia, terrified!”

Some of those not won over in the crowd were slowly mulling through their thoughts. Some curiosity seekers groaned, shrugged off the words and went back to their evening business. Others however, slowly started to nod subtly at what was making logical sense.

“All I ask is you question everything. Follow what the dreams tell you because one’s subconscious doesn’t lie! We know next to nothing about the being sitting in that castle. We don’t know where she came from, we don’t know why she and Princess Luna fought, we don’t see her offering any clarity. What we do know is she was strong enough to cow a dragon by shouting at it, that she’s aged at a rapid rate, that some think she may be immortal; and that the one being left in our beloved realm who could oppose her is now out of the picture after they fought... “

Knight Shroud shrugged, shaking his head slowly while motioning to the castle behind him.

“My little ponies, something like that does not sound like you or I. Something like that sounds like something I personally wouldn’t trust in any seat of power. Not until we have the full picture. And if those in charge insist she stand amongst them without public review, well… Maybe a rising night, might be needed. We need unity to truth, not blind acceptance of word.”

It was at that moment Knight Shroud and near everypony else was momentarily blinded by a flash of light shooting off in the middle of the crowd. In an instant it ceased and there was an uproar of gasps. Celestia stood at the front row in the middle portion of the audience, slowly swaying her head to and fro to take in everything around her. Ponies were left agape, many quickly backing up or fidgeting as they indecisively tried to pick between turning tail and fleeing or bowing. Many of the bat ponies and those colored like them were tensing up, eyes wide with surprise and fear. Some cautiously put their hooves over a sheathed weapon, mentally debating if it would do any good. Celestia herself was still as roughed up as she looked before, puffy eyes, stoic expression, and lack of regalia making her look almost as much unlike herself as her flowing, rainbow hued mane did. Casting her view to the front of the crowd, she slowly approached Knight Shroud. One could hear a pin drop as the slow clip-clop of her hooves on the cobblestone was the only noise on the street aside from hushed whispers.

“Is that.. Celestia?”

“What happened to her mane?”

“The tyrant is here?!”

“Oh Faust, no.“

“I think we need to run!”

Celestia heard them all, unflinching as she strode up to the stallion who admittedly was showing remarkable courage in not budging from his spot despite how scared he was. Celestia stopped directly before him and a breeze blew by as their eyes locked. Knight Shroud steeled himself, old military training, nerves, and dedication to a cause holding him together even under the piercing look in the alicorn’s eyes.

“Yes, I am afraid of you… So are they.”

He muttered, not even opting to try and lie.

“I want to believe the best. You’re not one of us, but talk in a way we can understand….”

Holding his breath, Knight Shroud narrowed his eyes, raising up as much as he could even if the alicorn was still easily twice his height.


Celestia knew the words he was going to speak even before he did. It was one she’d begged the Elements of Harmony, begged herself, many times before. She saw the Mare in the Moon reflecting in Knight Shroud’s eyes and tensed up slightly.

“Why did you banish your own sister? If she really attacked you, why couldn’t you have done a thousand different things to stop her? And if she didn’t tell the truth.”

Celestia’s body trembled from hooves to horn. The burning headache returned and struck her like a punch from Tirek. The air began to heat up all around her, Knight Shroud managing to hold his ground against the searing air currents coming off her. Many in the crowd shouted for him to get back, someponies grabbing others to flee while other bolder ponies actually charged the alicorn they were sure was about to smite their friend.

“What are you, and why are you here?”

Celestia’s face briefly contorted into an agonizing frown, the world itself feeling like it was crushing in on her. And to avoid being crushed, she pushed back…

When Commander Hurricane’s forces arrived what they found was the street turned inside out by what looked like a massive blastwave. Most onlookers were too scared to speak. Knight Shroud, while alive, was concussed from the same wave having apparently thrown him through a fruit stand.

Earlier in the day, at the border

Timbucktu, the jewel of the skies. In the modern day the city would be virtually legendary to pegasi and other ponykind alike. This was the place the pegasi called their capital before the unification, a megalithic city built onto clouds and the first of it’s kind. While the military held the most power in their race, hence why Commander Hurricane went out to establish new lands; their original rule was technically an oligarchy. The chief commander in charge of the flight teams and military, and a king acting as the ceremonial and civic ruler of the city and it’s domain. With the unification of the races, the decision to move Timbucktu to the new realm was one long debated, especially after the chaos of a year prior at Equestria and the Crystal Empire. But now that things had died down, it was a decision that was well received. The Equestrian land claim was filled with workable airspace and while Timbucktu would be the grandest and first of the sky cities, King Orion was already planning on making sure it wasn’t the only one. And with now two more pony races for clients and his old friend Grover having unified Gryphonstone, it seemed Timbucktu’s economic future in trade and industry was more than assured between the pegasi, unicorn, earth ponies; and some gryphon trade. With Hurricane finally off his literal high horse and shutting off the embargo, there was plenty of new expansions to make, ponies to experience the Timbucktu hoofdiwork; and the capital would be as rich as their sparkly jewel-like eyes were!

But, despite much of their ambition, it wouldn’t just be the sparkling eyes, expansive palace, military, or Romane architectural wonders Timbucktu would go down in history for. The true claim to the pegasi capital’s legendary status would arrive not in flocking riches or a thriving populace, but how all of that would leave on insectoid wings when a changeling horde burst out of the forest below and came upon the city in a buzzing, dark cloud. All across Timbucktu, screams of panic and confusion rang out. A green inferno of dark magic fire scorched the polished marble and limestone. Changelings were chasing any civilians they encountered while they overwhelmed the remaining military who’d stayed behind after Hurricane’s leave, the insectoid monstrosities smashing through the clouds and morphing into duplicates of the populace to throw the defenders off guard. A tall, powerful form watched the mayhem with laughing applause. A hissing chuckle spewed out of lips curling into an evil smile once eyes locked on to King Orion and his guard joining the fray to protect a fleeing crowd. The last remaining student of Grogar, the dark magical embodiment of lust, Chrysalis; looked upon the monarch with with hungry eyes. Green fire flashed across her form as she took the visage of one guard and flew in close.

Author's Note:

Proofreading by Lance-Omikron and Faith-Wolff
Art to come soon by Faith-Wolff

Next Time on The Eclipse Times:
Darkest just before sunrise... Partial Eclipse